Lynn Kohlman

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Lynn Eleanor Kohlman
Lynn Kohlman on the Oprah Winfrey show.jpg
Lynn Kohlman on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005
Born (1946-08-12)August 12, 1946
Teaneck, New Jersey, U.S.
Died September 14, 2008(2008-09-14) (aged 62)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Education Oberlin College
Spouse(s) Mark Obenhaus (m. 1983-2008; her death); 1 child
Parent(s) Clement Wolfe Kohlman (1916–2000)

Lynn Eleanor Kohlman (August 12, 1946 – September 14, 2008) was a fashion model, photographer, author, and creative director at DKNY.


Kohlman was born in Teaneck, New Jersey to Clement Wolfe Kohlman (1916–2000), and his wife, Eleanor. She majored in art history at Oberlin College, graduating summa cum laude, and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. While at Oberlin, she spent one semester in Florence, Italy, helping restore works of art.[1][2]

She began as a fashion model while in high school and appeared on the covers of major fashion magazines.[3]

In the 1970s, she was a photographer for Interview, Vogue, GQ and Glamour. In 1983, she married Mark Obenhaus, a documentary film producer that she had known as a student at Oberlin College.[4]

In 1989 she was appointed the fashion director of the Donna Karan Company and later was involved with Tommy Hilfiger's launch of his women’s wear line. In 2002, she was diagnosed first with breast cancer, then with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain cancer. She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

One day while I was going through all this [the mastectomy], two friends stopped by my New York apartment. I told them, "This wouldn't be so bad, but my breasts were the best part of my body." And one of them said: "Pick something else." So I decided to love my legs, which had always been the least favorite part of my body. Today I feel more beautiful than I ever did, which is one of the main reasons the book is called Front to Back.

She died on September 14, 2008 from complications from her cancer.[1][2] In British newspaper The Guardian, Kohlman was described as "the beautiful public body of cancer":[3]

She posed for the camera unclothed with both breasts gone, with titanium staples encircling her scalp after a brain operation, with hair frazzled away by radiation. In a radical gesture consistent with her life, she published proximate portraits of her youthful perfection and post-op, scarred self, defiantly lovely, in her autobiography, Lynn Front to Back, published in 2005.[3]

She is survived by her husband, Mark Obenhaus, and their son, Sam.[4]



  1. ^ a b Wilson, Eric (September 15, 2008). "Lynn Kohlman, Model and Muse to Major Designers, Dies at 62". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-09. Lynn Kohlman, a successful fashion model of the 1970s whose slightly androgynous look became an inspiration to the designers Perry Ellis and Donna Karan, died on Sunday in Manhattan. She was 62. 
  2. ^ a b Rourke, Mary (September 19, 2008). "Lynn Kohlman dies at 62; model and photographer was muse to top designers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-09. Lynn Kohlman, a fashion model and photographer who worked with the creative teams of top New York designers Perry Ellis, Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan, has died. She was 62. Kohlman died of brain cancer Sunday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said her husband, Mark Obenhaus. She had been battling cancer for more than five years. 
  3. ^ a b c Horwell, Veronica (September 25, 2008). "Lynn Kohlman". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  4. ^ a b Pogoda, Dianne M. (September 15, 2008). "Model-Photographer Lynn Kohlman, 62". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 2008-11-30. Lynn Kohlman, a model and photographer who also served as Perry Ellis' muse and in creative roles for Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger, died Sunday morning at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center...